Tracey Emin might be the ultimate 90swoman. But in the spirit of her confessional art, I have a confession of my own: I’ve never been sure I’d like her very much in person. But at a reading last Saturday I found out that my skepticism could not have been more misplaced. She was hilarious, smart, self-aware, and complicated. She confidently read a short sketch about all the boys she fucked when she was 13 and 14 but refused to read the end of another story because she said she was far too embarrassed. (Even exhibitionists have their limits.) She brought a glass of wine up to the lectern—it’s true, her pleasure-seeking always gives me a little thrill—but she never took a sip from it.
She is unapologetic about how much she likes sex—“sex used to get me out of bed in the morning,” she said—but she’s also deeply romantic.”I think we all know how that feels,” she said at the close of one of her sexually explicit, emotionally vulnerable stories. It’s funny that she’s always called a narcissist, considering how much of her work is about the intense ways in which humans need, want, and affect each other. During the Q & A, someone asked the excellent question “Do you ever stop longing?” She said: Sometimes, but it’s only momentary. Some of the questions–like “are you a sex addict?”–were far less kind. But then, pretty much any female artist who deals with sexuality is going to be semi-covertly accused of sluttiness.
Emin’s relationship with/to straight men seems totally representative of 90swoman heterosexuality. Including that she’s insinuated that she isn’t exactly heterosexual. But maybe this is a subject for a different post.–Kara